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tv   CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley  CBS  August 26, 2011 4:30pm-5:00pm PDT

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after allegra-d, i can breathe. [ female announcer ] for fast, non-drowsy, 24-hour relief from even congestion and pressure. [ man ] after allegra-d, i have it all. >> pelley: tonight, hurricane irene is about to launch an assault on the east coast of the united states. and tens of millions of people in some of the biggest metropolitan areas of the country are in her path. we have correspondents throughout the region as we track this powerful storm. in new york, the mayor orders the first mandatory evacuation in the city's history. >> nobody's going to get fined, nobody's going to go to jail, but if you don't follow this, people might die. >> pelley: and as we look ahead to irene, we'll look back as well to a devastating
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hurricane that took the very same path. >> there was no warning. absolutely zero warning. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley. >> pelley: good evening. much of the east coast is preparing tonight for an invasion by hurricane irene. an estimated 65 million people could feel the impact of this powerful storm. two million have been ordered to evacuate, and that includes more than 300,000 in low-lying coastal areas of new york city. and here's why: a hurricane could cause a storm surge that would swallow up the part of downtown manhattan that you see here in blue. at last report, irene was about 300 miles off the coast of north carolina, packing winds of 100 miles an hour, a category two storm. watches and warnings are up from the carolinas to new england, covering some of the most populated areas in the country
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including washington, philadelphia, new york, long island and boston. we have a team of correspondents deployed throughout the area and we begin with cbs news hurricane consultant david bernard in miami. david, what's the latest forecast? >> well, scott, as you mentioned, we have a category two hurricane, 100 mile per hour winds. the latest position had it 265 miles to the south/southwest of cape hatteras and moving to the north at 14 miles per hour. these are the conditions right now in the carolinas. we have strong rain bands with tropical storm conditions on the south and north carolina coast and all of that is gradually spreading up to the north. it will be across the entire northeast by the time we get into tomorrow. >> pelley: david, this is a massive storm. i wonder, who will feel the effects of it? >> well, a lot of people in short. i want to take a look at this wind graphic we have of irene. this will really give you an idea of the extent of the wind
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field. that yellow area are tropical storm force winds. watch how far inland those winds are going to spread over the next 24 hours. that red area are hurricane-force winds and as we go into saturday night and sunday those tropical storm force winds are going to spread well into new england with the possibility of hurricane force winds right along the coast. >> pelley: irene seems to be losing a little bit of steam at this hour. what's the best-case scenario? >> well, as far as the best-case scenario goes, this is how i see it. we can't do much about the track at this point. that looks pretty certain to continue to the north and northeast and hug right along the coast. we can hope that the winds die down a little bit, but the problem with this storm, scott, it's moving slower than normal so the winds are going to blow longer and the rain is going to fall for a longer amount of time, increasing the chance for damage and also flooding. >> pelley: thank you, david. the first bands of rain from the hurricane began hitting north carolina this afternoon. tourists and residents on the outer banks were urged to move
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to safer ground. our mark strassmann is in kill devil hills. >> reporter: in the next few hours, scott, we're going to feel tropical storm gusts here. winds of 50, 60 miles an hour. and about the only people left on these barrier islands are emergency responders and die-hards. >> good morning, are you staying during the storm? >> yeah. >> reporter: in nags head, sergeant doug white took a head count of holdouts. >> are you folks leaving? >> no. >> pelley.>> reporter: they coun their own. >> at a certain wind speed, 65 miles per hour, we won't be able to get to them. >> reporter: but most people are gone. in dare county alone, 180,000 people have fled-- with good reason. some sections of the outer banks are only as wide as a couple of football fields. irene could force a seven-foot-high wall of water across narrow low-lying areas and split the outer banks in two. hatteras island was cut off for two months after hurricane
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isobel in 2003. irene's inland flooding could be worse. an 11-foot storm surge could roll on shore. >> i refunded five nights. >> reporter: 82-year-old carol dillon's motel guests have fled. >> all my beach houses have been canceled. >> reporter: but she never leaves during hurricanes. not during isobel when this photo of her made "u.s.a. today's" front page, not now. >> i'm doing everything i can to protect what property i have, but if it happens, it happens. and i've learned to take life as it comes and try not to cry about it. >> reporter: and here's what's of particular worry, scott. the hurricane's northeast quadrant is going to pass over these barrier islands. that's its most powerful side. winds of 115 miles an hour here by noon tomorrow. >> pelley: mark, thank you very much. the hurricane is not due in new york until sunday, but the evacuation is already under way. officials took a lesson from hurricane katrina and decided to
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clear low-lying areas early. we asked armen keteyian to track the fast-moving developments in america's largest city. >> reporter: some of the first new yorkers to be evacuated were elderly patients at this coney island nursing home. told to pack a single bag before being loaded into a van. >> we don't want to get flooded out here. we don't want to get nobody hurt. of course we have to evacuate. >> i just pray to god that everything works out. >> reporter: long time administrator howard small says he hasn't seen a day like this in 39 years. >> this has never been used in practice. it's just been tested in theory. >> reporter: five major hospitals were evacuated. many patients headed to one of the 91 emergency facilities, evacuation centers, and shelters open this afternoon. >> if you want to be safe, now's the time to start moving. >> reporter: mayor michael bloomberg ordered a first-ever mandatory evacuation of low-lying areas in all five boroughs. an estimated 250,000 people
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about to be displaced in places like coney island, brooklyn, and rockaway, queens. >> nobody's going to get fined, nobody's going to go to jail. but if you don't follow this, people might die. >> reporter: it's so serious new yorkers known for their toughness seem shaken by irene's potential. stores quickly running out of necessities like water, food, and batteries. >> very nervous. yeah. it's going to be a lot of work after this. trying to get back. >> reporter: mayor bloomberg joked this might be a good time to visit that long-lost cousin overnight. but the fact is, scott, this city is not fooling around in any way, shape, or form when it comes to this storm. >> pelley: thanks, armen. the nation's largest mass transit system, a system that eight million commuters depend on every weekday, will shut down about noon tomorrow. earlier today, we talked with new york city police commissio commissioner ray kelly as he prepared for the storm. >> the subways are going to be shut down. the buses will shut down at
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essentially the same time. >> reporter: manhattan island, of course, is connected by nothing but bridges and tunnels to the mainland. what happens to the bridges and tunnels if a hurricane-force wind comes through? >> in essence, 60 miles an hour winds, the bridges will be shut down. >> pelley: so for some period of time manhattan is going to be isolated. >> yes. difficult to say how long, but once you shut down the subway system, it takes a while to start it back up again. >> pelley: i wonder, has that ever been done before in new york, the systematic shutting down of all the subways? the buss? >> not that i can recall. they have been shut down. for instance, we've had a blackout in 2003, i believe it was, that subways just stopped. people were removed from trains. >> pelley: the first time the subway system has had a planned shutdown, that was shut down on purpose. >> right. >> pelley: it seems to me that you spend a great deal of your time thinking about counterterrorism. and here you've had an
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earthquake and a hurricane in one week. >> it's true. (laughs) it's true. but interestingly enough, some of the things that we do in our counterterrorism efforts-- for instance being able to mobilize large numbers of police officers and actually create the task force for counterterrorism efforts-- will be help informal this regard. >> pelley: so all the work that you've done in counterterrorism on coordinating the force, on rolling the force out for a major emergency, on communications systems, for example, all that's going to be handy now. >> yeah. i think the efforts to protect the city from the terrorist attacks have helped us in crime fighting and also sort of all hazards approach or environment we find ourselves in. >> pelley: irene is disrupting travel for a lot of americans. the airlines have canceled more than 6,300 flights this weekend. most will allow customers to change their tickets without a fee. amtrak has limited or suspended service up and down the east coast through sunday. here is the latest storm news
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for other major cities. this is washington, d.c. live where the mayor has just declared a state of emergency and where sunday's dedication of the martin luther king, jr. memorial has been postponed. this is philadelphia where there are plans to suspend transit service at midnight tomorrow night. that will be a first in philly. and boston live where the governor has activated 500 national guard troops. president obama is cutting short his martha's vineyard vacation by a day and will be headed back to the white house tonight. in new jersey, many trains will stop running at noon tomorrow as irene moves in and in atlantic city all bets are off. the casinos will go dark for only the third time in three decades. michelle miller is in belmar, new jersey. >> reporter: scott, here in belmar and other resort towns
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along the jersey shore there is serious concern about the economic impact of this storm. this last weekend before labor day millions of dollars are at stake. for 32 years, frank sementa's club in belmar, new jersey, than place to gather after a hot day at the beach. he's hoping the party lasts one more night. >> the phone ringing off the hook all afternoon. "are you open?" "yes, we're open." "oh, thank you, thank you." >> reporter: it's the same all over the board walk, shop owners trying to squeeze in one more day before irene shuts them down. every weekend is precious. businesses here take in $3 million if three short months of summer when as many as 60,000 people visit in a day. sementa is afraid he could lose 15% of his profits to irene for the year. >> we'll lose two days and it hurts but can't cry over it. >> reporter: hurricane irene is expected to chew up 127 miles of jersey shoreline, damaging not only the beaches but severely impacting the state's
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$35 billion tourism industry. belmar's mayor is worried that the beach and the board walk won't be here after she leaves. >> even if we lose one weekend, we don't want to lose two or even a whole season. >> reporter: and getting to the shore from points north will be nearly impossible from this point on. the main parkway southbound will be closed to traffic from tonight through the duration of the storm. scott? >> pelley: thank you, michelle. how much damage could irene do? well, one estimate tonight says losses of insured property alone could hit $10 billion. $20 billion if you include uninsured losses. hurricane katrina was quite a bit worse, though, katrina's losses totaled $80 billion. how do we know so much about the hurricane? well, there are weather satellites, of course. but for the best measurements, they still fly planes right into the storm and we asked bigad shaban to ride into the teeth of
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irene to show us how it's done. >> reporter: a hurricane hunter flies into irene everyday. we intercepted the storm as it moved along florida's coast. carl newman is the commander. >> to get to the eye we basically cut a straight path, we stay low, we punch through low altitudes. >> reporter: the plane crisscrossed the eye of the storm five times as scientists took wind speed measurements all by dropping g.p.s. tracking systems into the clouds. >> we're really able to get a nice picture as to what the structure of the storm looks like and that's really important for knowing what's going to happen in the future in terms of the intensity of the storm. >> reporter: waves crested as high as 30 feet below. >> flying into the eye is very humbling. it really... you see the power of nature. we can get wind speeds of 120, 130 knots and even higher at times. >> reporter: we spent six hours inside hurricane irene as she drove north. >> what we collect today makes a decision for the forecasters which then affects emergency management and they would say evacuate or don't evacuate.
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because no matter what we do, the storm is still going to do what it's going to do. >> reporter: and by the end of the flight, scientists were surprised at just how well defined the eye of the storm became just in the amount of time we were there and, scott, they say that's the sign of a strong hurricane. >> pelley: thanks, bigad. with such a strong hurricane coming, we worried today about the statue of libber think has stood up to everything in new york harbor for 125 years. so we called the national park service and they told us we needn't worry. turns out, the statue's copper structure is flexible and can withstand winds in excess of 120 miles an hour. and with lady liberty 154 feet above sea level, the park service says flooding is no concern, either. there is other news tonight. the economy has slowed down but wall street snapped a losing streak. what's become of qaddafi's looted arsenal of weapons? and a hurricane past that may be
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workers. in libya tonight, rebel leaders say that they are closing in on moammar qaddafi. there's no proof of that, but nato-backed rebel forces are moving against a qaddafi stronghold east of tripoli and, as barry petersen reports, they're rooting out the last qaddafi loyalists in the capit capital. >> reporter: in tripoli, under pressure from the rebels, qaddafi's forces are retreating and scattering and while the rebels now control most of the country, qaddafi still has the loyalty of tribal areas where he can hide including surt where he was born. but rebels are reinforcing their attack on surt, aided by nato-coordinated british fighter jets. now there's growing alarm about qaddafi's looted weapons arsenal. up to 30,000 shoulder-launched missiles which can down a commercial jet. intelligence sources have detected a fall in the price of these shoulder-launch missiles
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in middle east arms market, a suggestion there is a glut of these out there, probably flowing out of libya and perhaps flowing into the hands of terrorists like al qaeda. and, according to an al qaeda web site, some 600 hard core mujahadeen are among those set free after rebels stormed the main tripoli prison. one thing still working for qaddafi is his propaganda machine. a satellite t.v. channel based in syria. today it aired what it claimed was a live report of adoring masses in tripoli's main square celebrating qaddafi's greatness. in truth, rebels took the square their first night in the city and people come here to celebrate, all right. celebrate the end of qaddafi. the end seems near if not for qaddafi himself for his forces who are on the run everywhere. barry petersen, cbs news, tripoli, libya. >> pelley: as we continue to watch hurricane irene, we'll take a look back at another storm that devastated the
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duracell. trusted everywhere. >> pelley: the hurricane could well have an impact on the economy still struggling to recover from the recession and today we learned the economy is growing even more slowly than we thought. the government said g.d.p. growth in the second quarter was just 1%. on wall street today, after an early selloff, stocks rallied. at the close, the dow was up 134
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points to finish the week with a gain of 4.3%. that ended a four-week losing streak. as hurricane irene threatens the northeast, we were reminded of one of the biggest storms ever to hit the area. it roared ashore more than 70 years ago and elaine quijano reports some still call it unforgettable. >> none of the northeast states escaped the fleury of the deluge. 500 lost their lives. >> reporter: they never saw it coming. before fema or radar, before storms even had names, the hurricane of 1938 became known as the long island express. >> and long island bears the brunt of a tropical hurricane that culminates in the worst storm in history. >> reporter: when the storm barreled over the eastern end of long island... >> in westhampton it says two bradley children were missing. >> reporter: ...otis bradley was only six years old. he and his sister margaret were visiting a beach house directfully the storm's path. >> there was no warning.
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absolutely zero warning. >> reporter: otis remembers the grown-ups in the house telling him not to look out the window-- so, of course, he did. >> dark and windy and scary. my sister says that she saw a 50-foot tidal wave. >> reporter: the category three hurricane made landfall with bellport, new york, with winds at 121 miles per hour and a storm surge that rushed into the house that otis and his sister were visiting. >> after the water started piling up, we moved up to the second floor. and then to the attic. and the men cut a hole in the roof so that if the house got washed away, we could get out. >> reporter: what do you remember feeling? >> cold and damp and wet and scared. >> reporter: in the village of westhampton beach, bob murray of the local historical society showed us just how high the water rose from the storm surge. eight feet! a mile inland. after the hurricane, so few buildings were left standing and
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there were so many dead 29 bodies were take on the a makeshift morgue here at the town's country club. the winds and water were so powerful they changed the landscape creating the shinnecock inlet which was later reinforced and widened. more than 550 people died, almost 9,000 homes and buildings were destroyed. how do you think that shaped you? >> lucky. >> reporter: lucky. but with irene bearing down on the east coast... >> i'll tell you monday whether i'm concerned or not. (laughs). >> reporter: that's because otis is planning to ride out this hurricane, too. elaine quijano, cbs news, westhampton beach, new york. elaine quijano, cbs news, westhampton beach, new york. >> pelley: and we'll be look at all this stuff for coffee. oh there's tons. french presses, espresso tampers, filters. it can get really complicated. not nearly as complicated as shipping it, though. i mean shipping is a hassle. not with priority mail flat rate boxes from the postal service. if it fits it ships anywhere in the country for a low flat rate. that is easy. best news i've heard all day! i'm soooo amped! i mean not amped. excited. well, sort of amped.
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>> pelley: now the latest on hurricane irene. this is a live picture of the north carolina coast where the surf is up and the rain has begun. but the worst is yet to come. the storm now packing winds of about 100 miles an hour is due to make landfall in north carolina tomorrow then head right up the east coast hitting the new york metropolitan area on sunday. stay with cbs news as we continue to track irene throughout the weekend. for now, that's the "cbs evening news" and for all of us at cbs news all around the world, good
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